INTO THE WOODS!
- By SASHA KLAVER
- Photo Courtesy of DISNEY
Tired of the same old stories? Looking for something new? Well, look no further than the fairy tales gathering dust on that old bookshelf. The reimagined stories of Little Red Riding Hood, Jack and the Beanstalk, Cinderella and Rapunzel intertwine and dance together in Disney’s upcoming film Into the Woods, adapted from the original Sondheim musical of the same name. The result is a tale that takes the storybooks we knew as children and turns them on their heads in a turn of what promises to be cinematic magic, with a cast unrivaled in most movies of 2014.
The story is based on classic Grimm fairy tales, but turns on an original story about a baker (James Corden) and his wife (Emily Blunt) that are desperate for a child. In a family line cursed by a witch (Academy Award winner and legend Meryl Streep), the couple are told that if they bring the witch the four ingredients she needs for a potion, she will lift the hex that is keeping them from starting their family. But as with anything in the real world and not the land of make believe, the story is always more complicated than the bedtime stories of yesteryear.
The couple are tasked with finding “the cow as white as milk, the cape as red as blood, the hair as yellow as corn, and the slipper as pure as gold.” As the search ensues for these items, the baker and his wife encounter some of our most beloved cultural icons: Jack (Daniel Huttlestone) of bean stalk fame, Little Red Riding Hood (Lilla Crawford), Rapunzel (Mackenzie Mauzy) and Cinderella (Anna Kendrick) all have a part to play. Can the baker and his wife get each of them to part with their beloved possessions with their honor intact? Or will they, too, have to bend their moral compass to get what they truly want?
The cast is rounded out by several other high caliber stars to make the film’s billing a powerhouse who’s who. Included in the lineup is Tracy Ullman as Jack’s mother, Christine Baranski as Cinderella’s step mother, Chris Pine as Cinderella’s Prince Charming and Johnny Depp as Little Red Riding Hood’s immortal adversary, the wolf.
For 15 years, Hollywood had been trying to adapt a beloved American musical to film, but until now it eluded the silver screen. Along the way such Hollywood luminaries as the late Robin Williams, Goldie Hawn, Cher, Danny DeVito, Steve Martin, Roseanne Barr, Billy Crystal, Meg Ryan and Susan Sarandon were in talks to star in any one of several imagined movies. But it was not until 2012 when Disney asked Rob Marshall to direct a new adaptation that things really got cooking. By the fall of 2013, filming had started in London and continued throughout the year and into 2014. Now audiences are waiting in anticipation to see the finished product, which will take us all on a magical journey to the screen that started 27 years ago in San Diego’s Old Globe Theater when the original musical opened.
The soundtrack includes 34 tracks, most of which are from the original score, with some new additions. But all of the songs – new and old– are pure Sondheim and promise to delight audiences as only he knows how. Add costumes designed by Colleen Atwood, and Into the Woods will almost certainly be a feast for the eyes, ears and, most importantly, the heart.
In a time where we are all too often confronted with the brutal reality of our world, it is no shame to momentarily retreat into a place that promises us a touch of fantasy, and a bit of an escape. But more than that, Into the Woods also asks us to think about what we really want and what we are willing to pay to get it. Perhaps this is the most important lesson of a film that promises to be anything but “grim,” no matter who wrote it.
Into the Woods opens nationwide on Christmas Day.